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Horace and Steph

A decidedly liberal buddy of mine was recently Facebook-reprimanded by a Bernie Sanders supporter for his defense of Hillary Clinton with this observation on his artistic potency: “Not enough fangs to be fifth-cousin to a vampire.” This, I’m afraid, is what the Trump candidacy has brought us to. The Republican Party has become so whacked-out that Democrats have taken to preying upon themselves. Perhaps it’s all part of some grand scheme and right-wing conspiracy. Let them have this election and take over everything in four years after they’ve eaten their own. I find myself moving with troubling expediency toward the George Carlin world-view that I’ve mentioned numerous times in the past. The drain-circles are getting smaller and faster and the only appropriate response would seem to be rooting them on. Something has clicked in me over the last year and it’s not unlike the curtain being pulled back on a less intelligent and compassionate version of Oz’s wizard. The rockhead to genius ratio is no different than it was on the third-grade tetherball court and any illusion I had that age might improve things puts me squarely in the former group. Your children aren’t special. Merle Haggard is dead.

Thank God for professional sports and Louis CK. One of the upsides of spending much time in Northern California of late has been watching the Golden State Warriors play basketball. I’ve been to two Warrior games this year, one on each coast, and watched a bunch on TV. What Stephen Curry does on a basketball court is the antidote for all of life’s bullshit ambiguity. Anyone of the mind that sports are frivolous pablum for the masses need only keep this in mind: it’s simple. All you need to do is make the ball go through the hoop. Just watch this guy do what he does for a few minutes and try and deny its beauty. “Ah yes,” some of you may be inclined to observe, “but what does it mean in the grand scheme of things?” It means everything. Not the wins and losses, not the political bickering, not the micro-lessons in the produce aisle on avocados and where they come from for your precious bundles of joy. But what Steph Curry does, in the moment and with a basketball. It means everything.

Of course if you still crave the great, ambiguous milieu, there’s Louis CK’s “Horace and Pete” which just wrapped a few weekends back. I was listening to an interview with Garry Shandling in the wake of his recent death and, to paraphrase him, it all comes down to art and heart. This applies to CK’s recent, brilliantly flawed, visionary effort. The finale peaked with a kind of peculiar and pointed emotion just at the moment CK’s character Horace is hit with a personal epiphany. And then, before we can discover what it is and not unlike the Soprano’s finale, a cut to black. As Edie Falco, playing his sister, later observes about Horace: “He was nothing, really. He was, uh, no kind of man. He was just some guy.” True enough, but within that description lies a Steph Curry jump-shot; all the world’s promise and all the world’s heart.

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  1. Paully three fingers wrote:

    Just finished episode four of Horace and Pete.
    I never much cared for Alan Alda. Going way back to M*A*S*H. It seemed like there were only two modes: the shit-eating grinning Alan Alda, and the hyper-sincere Alan Alda. Never worked for me.

    This is by far the best role he’s ever had. Or, I guess I should say, this is the first role I’ve really cared about a character he played. Really fantastic acting.
    As to what I think of the whole H&P, well, like I said. Only on episode 4. Still running ambivalent. It’s had some very strong moments, but also some of those ‘trying to hard’ clinkers that break the rhythm. Louis really should have just directed, or perhaps not hired so many good actors to surround himself with.

    But then…who asked me?

    Friday, April 15, 2016 at 1:40 am | Permalink
  2. admin wrote:

    At least CK is smart enough to not try to match acting chops with Buscemi and the others. I find the unevenness adds to the show’s heart and when it peaks this adds to it. Will be interested to hear what you think if you see it through. I came back to it for the final few shows after going cold for a bit, but I really enjoyed the final few scenes. I’d ask you Pauly .. I’d ask you.

    Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 2:18 am | Permalink
  3. miller wrote:

    You had me at Your children aren’t special. Merle Haggard is dead.

    Am i assuming pauly three fingers is our own Paul “I never saw a phone book i couldn’t tear in half’ Theodoropolous?!

    Great piece, Again, Rick. (too many commas in that sentence?) someday i’ll break down and buy the rest of the episodes of H&P…only saw the first one and that was a week before i got NetFlix. Now I’m watching some show about a mafia guy seeing a shrink . .pretty good. There’s a guy named pauly in there too.
    be swell you’s guys.
    and Rick . .Keep Writing.

    -Miller Ten Toes

    Monday, April 18, 2016 at 9:54 am | Permalink
  4. admin wrote:

    Did Pauly really make that comment about phone book tearing? If so I say we meet up in Minneapolis with your white pages and work our way east.

    Monday, April 18, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink
  5. Paully three fingers wrote:

    Yeah, it’s me Scotter, and yes, I think I probably did say that about phone books. There’s a trick to it, anybody can do it, but it sure looks impressive when you do it. Well….depending upon the crowd you hang with.

    I went cold on H&P right after I wrote my comment here – other life-matters intruded. Over the last few days I’ve resumed. Today I started watching the last episode, but only made it to the intermission, as somebody apparently was chopping onions nearby. Too fucking heartbreaking, and at a not-good time at the moment. I may try firing it back up and finishing later tonight.

    The standard superlatives aren’t really right for this thing. It’s not ‘brilliant’ in the typical review sense, but it has moments of clarity that can fucking hurt a lot – even if I’ve never experienced what the characters are illuminating. Perhaps ‘authentic’ is the right word. All from Louis C.K., which I find simultaneously baffling and yet making perfect sense.

    It’s times like these that I regret not being better-read. I only know of great writers based on what other people have said of them – never had patience for novels. H&P has the feel of being an inherently abbreviated treatment of a long and complex novel. Like when people say ‘you MUST read the book, but the movie is great on its own’. H&P is great on its own.

    Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 9:02 pm | Permalink
  6. admin wrote:

    I think that’s well put Paul. It feels more like theater. There’s a great 1984 version of Sam Shepard’s “True West” with John Malkovich and Gary Sinise from American Playhouse. Horace and Pete feels something like that to me, except rougher around the edges and without one single dominating performance like Malkovich (with the exception, possibly, of Laurie Metcalf’s show stopper monologue in the third or fourth episode.) It isn’t uplifting and at times suffers from the more self indulgent side of CK’s id on full display. That said, the guy has balls and drive and funded and put it out himself. There’s a good interview with him on one of the last Marc Maron WTF podcasts and it’s all about Horace and Pete and how it came about. Some great stuff in there including some of the casting choices (Nicholson, Pesci) who he wanted but didn’t get. That he got that cast he did was something in itself. He wields quite a bit of deceptively unassuming pull in show biz circles these days.

    Sunday, April 24, 2016 at 2:52 am | Permalink

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